If you happen to be travelling on a District Line tube through Gloucester Road underground station, make sure you have a look out the window, or even get off the train and catch the next one.
Why? Well, so that you can see the art exhibition of course!
One of the stranger places I have seen an art exhibition, Gloucester Road tube station hosts four exhibitions per year on a disused platform on the District and Circle line.
Thousands of passengers each month travel past the exhibition, where you can see a range of work by both lesser known and well established artists.
I have heard of people making the journey to Gloucester Road just to see the exhibitions.
Richard Francis Burton - soldier, explorer, traveller extraordinaire (the first European to enter Mecca - disguised as an Arab - and live to tell the tale), diplomat (though rarely diplomatic ), scholar, linguist, translator of the Arabian Nights, author, - a fantastic character who lived his life to the full and achieved fame but never fortune, the recognition of his peers but never a real acceptance by the high and the mighty of the land - died in Trieste in 1890. Despite all his amazing work, even in death he was an outcast and instead of in a hero's tomb in a great city church or cathedral, his burial place is to be found in the small churchyard of St Mary Magdalene's Roman Catholic church near the Thames at Mortlake in south-west London.
Ever the wanderer, Burton wanted to be laid to rest in a tent in the desert. Well, Mortlake's a long way from his beloved Arabia but he did get his tent, and Isobel, his wife and most loyal companion, lies beside him. There's a small window on the back wall of the tomb through which you can see the interior of the tent where the coffins rest, side by side. There is also a dedicated stained glass window inside the church.
Lovers of adventure and adventurers should make the pilgrimage to Mortlake sometime when they are passing through London to pay homage to this most extraordinary man.
The church is open weekdays (except Friday) and Saturday from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m, and on Sunday from 9.00 a.m. to 7.30 p.m
Mortlake Station ( regular trains from Waterloo) is a 5 minute walk away.
Directions for drivers and bus access can be found on the church website
If I lived to be 100 years old I know I will still never see and do everything there is to see and do in London. That's what makes it such an exciting city. Thanks goes to my VT friend Jo104 who told me about this place in Shoreditch, East London, otherwise I would have been none the wiser and missed a little hidden gem.
The Geffrye museum is unique because it is the ONLY museum dedicated to furniture and the domestic interiors of the urban middle class in the UK. Dating from 1600 through to the present day, there are displays of "rooms" - living rooms in particular - showing how people decorated their personal living space. Every minute detail has been carefully reconstructed to look as authentic as possible. At the moment each room has been decorated for Christmas and it was quite strange seeing a 60's lounge which reminded me of Christmases at home as a child.
The Geffrye museum was originally the site of Ironmonger's Alms houses but Sir Robert Geffrye transformed it into a museum dedicated to furniture to inspire the furniture makers whose workshops proliferated in the area at the time.
The museum is about 3/4 of a mile walk from Liverpool Street Station. You can also take a bus 67, 149, 242, 243, and 394. Entry is free and there is a restaurant.
Sundays and Bank Holidays 12-5pm
Closed Mondays (unless it's a Bank Holiday), Good Friday, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
We have possibly found the best coffee in London, hidden away in the 'burbs!
Munsons is a small cafe located off the beaten path in Ealing, West London.
They have a reputation in the area for having the best coffee in London - and it sure is good!!
They also serve fabulous home made cakes and delicious anti-pasto and sandwiches.
If you find yourself in this area of London, it is worth a stop .
71a St. Marys Rd
Covent Garden Hotel, a boutique Hotel in London's West End has it's own fully equipped state-of-the-art multi media screening room.
The cinema is pretty luxurious in design and has extremely comfortable leather seats
You can hire it for private screenings, or go along to some of their advertised screening nights.
We had a meal at the Hotel, and then enjoyed a screening of Gold Finger.
Covent Garden Hotel
10 Monmouth Street London WC2H 9HB
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
We were walking along the River Thames, In West London - from Kew Bridge to dinner at Chiswick.
There is a path that follows the Thames, with the river on one side and homes on the other.
Some of the houses along here are a little different - they have really short front doors!! There are steps up to the door - but it looks pretty crazy!
I guess it is because they are only about 2-3 metres from the water, and if the river floods then they won't get wet carpet....
Walk along the Thames Footpath, near Strand on the Green, Chiswick.
Nearest Tube: Gunnersbury
Nearest Train: Kew Bridge
Gordon's wine bar is the kind of place most visitors stumble across by accident - but only if they are lucky! Tucked away in Villiers street, the unassuming, dark, dingy frontage give the passer by the impression that this drinking establishment went out of business years ago.. don't be fooled - it is only masking an even darker and even dingier bar beneath the busy street!
Underneath Kipling House, where Samuel Pepys and Rudyard Kipling lived and Francis Bacon was born, you enter via the steps where you will find yourself in something out of a Dickens novel - the decor is brown smoke stained walls pasted with old yellowing newspapers and arches so low anyone over 5'2" must stoop to find a table. Much of the seating area has no electricity - just candles - and that low, menacing rumbling you hear every so often is the trains coming in and out of Charing Cross. On rainy days, the black walls drip heavily, so watch where you put your coats and bags.
They have a fine selection of wines from around the world and the barman really knows his wines and will be able to help. They only have German wines occasionally though - and when they do they are a Riesling produced in Australia! Oh well - we settled for a Medium Dry South African at £3.50 for a small glass.
They do food as well for about £7 a meal - for example, ploughmans (bread, cheese, salad or salmon or pasta etc etc)- and there is an outside seating area - but with an interior with more character than any wine bar in London who wants to sit outside??
If you fancy an easy day trip out of London, why not head to Windsor and visit the castle.
Windsor Castle is located 37kms west of London, and has been home to the Royals for over 900 years.
You can wander around the gardens and at certain times you can visit the state rooms.
The town of Windsor is also worth checking out and there are plenty of places to eat and get warm - especially if you go in January like we did!
You can catch the train from London Paddington to Windsor - it takes less than 1 hour (www.thetrainline.com) or it is also an easy drive.
Discover for yourself the secrets of the laboratory in which Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928. An in-situ reconstruction of the laboratory, displays and a video uncover the remarkable story of how a chance discovery became a lifesaving drug destined to revolutionise medicine. Love it when you get to see where it really happened.
The extensive archives of St Mary's Hospital are also open for research.
However, it is fair to suggest that I wasn't here to see the exhibition. No, I was just walking past and didn't find out about it till later. Perhaps when I visit again.......and have more time than to admire the wonderful architecture.
Open at other times by appointment only (Monday-Thursday 14.00-17.00 and Friday 10.00-17.00).
Closed on public holidays.
It's in Praed Street.
I remember about fifteen years ago, Spitalfields market in the early hours of the morning. A vast area of fruit and vegetable warehouses selling every imaginable thing from all corners of the globe. The streets, never designed for such beasts, were gridlocked by articulated lorries from all over Europe and the "ladies of the night" cruised to satisfy the baser urges of the drivers so far from home.
Chaotic and interesting as it was, it really couldn't continue, and the market moved to a suburb in Leyton in 1991. The beautiful building (completed in 1893) remained, however, and what to do with it?
With a foresight not normally associated with planners in London, Spitalfields has now re-invented itself as a great market for all kinds of things, not merely fruit and veg.
It is well worth a visit , especially on a Sunday (the busiest day) when you can buy anything from Greek Orthodox religious icons through second hand books and rare records to very fine organic sausages!
I thoroughly recommend it.
It is situated in Commercial Street E1 and the nearest tubes (underground / metro) are Liverpool Strret and Aldgate East (about equidistant). It is open Mon-Fri 11am-3pm & Sun 9.30am-5.30pm.
It is right opposite the Ten Bells public house (see seperate off the beaten track page) and a mere five minutes walk from Petticoat lane market (see tourist trap page) and right in Jack the Ripper country, so you can combine a couple of things in this very historic area.
Built by the Knights Templar, this is the last surviving round church in London. It is nestled between two Inns of Court (the Inner Temple and the Middle Temple) which is where law students go to live/study before becoming full-fledged barristers.
The very special thing about this church takes place on Sundays 11:15am. The choral mattins, sung by the Temple Church's own all-boy/men choir. 12 men and 18 boys, most AMAZING voices ever.
This is also where I met my friend Sir John and his wife Betty. I love Temple Church and the surrounding Inns of Court and this is my plug to you all: Check out Temple Church. Attend a Sunday Choral Mattins (or a lunchtime concert, held on Wednesdays at 1:15PM) or check out the Temple Gardens during the week around lunchtime. The church is beautiful and their preacher/semon-person/priest (called "master") is one of the best rhetoricians I know. Reverend Robin-Griffith Jones, Reverent and Valiant Master of the Temple, is one of the sweetest, smartest men I know and he's recently released his book on the DaVinci Code, debunking the unfounded 'facts' in the book. (Don't get me wrong, I loved the book, but just go to one of the Master's talks and he will win you over. I promise!)
I love the Temple Church dearly, I've been attending the services for over a year and I go back whenever I can. I just ask that people who are coming to visit the church, respect the fact that students are studying for their bar exam there and that the Church takes great pains to allow tourists to come into the Inner/Middle Temple area. Feel free to take your pictures, but not during services. If you come for the services, remember that the Church is primarily a place of God and not a tourist site. Please dress appropriately to services and if you want to come to the church but not the service, please wait quietly outside.
Otherwise, enjoy your visit to the Temple Church! :-) And I hope you end up loving it as much as I do, regardless of the book.
Westminster CATHEDRAL (not Westminster Abbey) is located near the Victoria station. A candy-house looking Roman Catholic church in the middle of a very Protestant country. HOWEVER, if you ask the lady at the desk, she'll guide you to an elevator where you paid about 3 quid (pounds) to ride all the way to the top of the cathedral where you will get an AMAZING view of London! It's a hell of a lot cheaper than the Millennium Eye's 11.50 quid! Check it out!
-it is also a very pretty church!
I must say, I really love wandering about old cemeteries, and this one is a classic. It is very unusual in that it has never apparently been consecrated. This led to it's being the last resting place of many Dissenters, Quakers and others who were not in favour with the established Church. It was much favoured by Puritans and a couple of members of the Cromwell family are buired there.
There appears to be a disproportionate amount of literary people amongst the 120,000 souls buried there. There are the graves of, or monuments to, Daniel Defoe (of Robinson Crusoe fame, John Bunyan (Pilgrim's Progress) and William Blake the poet.
Another interesting grave, in the open area, is that of Dame Mary Page, who apparently was "tap'd" 68 times in the last 67 months of her life resulting in the removal of 240 gallons of water! I have no idea what medical procedure this was, nor do I really wish to know.
The last interment there was of a 15 year old girl in 1834 after which the place was set aside as a park and recreation area. I love to go for a walk here.
Although most of the graves are behind fences, you can access them by arrangement with the park-keeper or by telephoning the number given.
If you fancy a day trip out of London, why not head for historic Bath.
Bath is a beautiful town located less than 2 hours drive west of London.
It is the perfect place to spend a day (or longer) roaming around the cobbled streets, visiting the famous bath spa and sampling some of Baths great cuisine.
For more details visit my Bath Page
Kew Bridge is an attractive stone bridge that spans the Thames River, joining Brentford/Chiswick with Kew.
The current bridge was built in 1903. It replaced a wooden bridge that was built back in 1759.
It is a beautiful bridge, and can be admired from the Thames footpath, which is a great place for a stroll along the River.
Nearest Tube: Kew Gardens - about 10-12 minutes walk
Nearest Train: Kew Bridge - about 2 minutes walk
There are many well-beaten paths in London as befits one of the major travel destinations in the world, but that is not the whole story. Visitors may well visit Buckingham Palace, the...